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Do the Doctors really understand??????

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,622
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:36 AM in Chronic Pain
Hey everyone.. Would very much appreciate anyone's input.. I am a disabled Vet from the Navy. I never went over seas, But did occur my injuries in the time of war. Let me start off by sayin I'm the type of person that is very blunt and I will NOT let anyone get one over on me. I am very respectful but have had a wrong attitude towards how I feel I am being treated here at the New Orleans VA Hospital. I have been going here for bout 2 years. I have Chronic back pain in my lower back. I had a MRI taken last year and 1 month ago. My 1st MRI I was told by the Neurologist that my last disc is gone.. He showed me it and explain that it's suppose to be white. Unfortunately my last disc doesn't have a white spec in it. Now if you have ever dealt with the VA than you might be able to relate with frustration.. I just recently changed Doctors, Due to my last Doctor pressin me about surgery. Im a 30 single father. I have my 17 month old daughter 5 days out of the week. I don't work for now and I goto school on-line. I spend every sec with my daughter and LOVE it. I have not yet been rated for this injury for disability yet. And Not sure how long down the road it will be till I do. I am so scared ifI do do this surgery I will not be able to do the things I do now with my lil girl. I wud rather deal with pain than have limitations on bending.

I have chronic pain everyday. Its like a deep feeling like the bones are rubbin against each other. Back spasms and the pain down the leg also. At some times it's very very painful where I can't sleep.

So here's are some question... Do doctors really understand how my pain keeps me up all night for days giving me a minimal of 2 hrs a sleep a night?? ( And yes I do explain this to my doctor). Do they understand the pain I have to deal with and the stress and depression that follows?? Do they really realize that the back rehab or pain management class interfere with a persons life do to no after hours sessions for people that work Would you really depend on someone that has 3 physical therapy appts a weeks? Not to dependable huh?? Everyone deals with there pain differently. I can't afford to take time off work and try to take care of a child. I am on a fixed income. And Yes I acknowledge I am in a better situation than most. I can have the Gov pay for my medical. But still... I usually go grab a BIG straw and just suck it up! I give alot of respect to women cause I am trying to raise my daughter most of the time by myslf and now can relate how tough it is. I'll put more info down as people ask.. And I'm sorry if somethings in here make no sense to you.


  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    My personal opinion is that some doctors do understand and some don't. I've known people who've had to go to five or more doctors just to find one that believes in what the patient is saying and tries hard to find solutions to their problems.

    What kind of surgery is your doctor suggesting? When you say the last disc, are you referring to your L/5-S/1? What does your new doctor say should be the next course of action?

    And also, I want to say thank you for your service.

  • pretty much have to try PT, epidural steriod shots, and other treatments before they'll do surgery. I've had black discs for years, but finally had one tear in two, which caused enough pain and I'd already tried everything else, that I had fusion surgery. I have been a single mom with two kids, but am remarried now. My husband doesn't do housework or cooking or care for the kids, but my mom came over each time I had surgery for 2-3 days and "replaced" me. Maybe you can work out something with the PT folks to help with your daughter while you do the exercises? Maybe your family can help out? Some childcares will work with you to let your daughter stay for just a day at a time, without paying for weeks at a time. Some churches have childcare too.

    Good luck with your decisions and hope you get some relief soon. Recovery can be better than you think. The first week is always the hardest, then you just have to follow the doctor's orders.
  • Hi Broke joke,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Thank you for your service to this country. As far as having the surgery or not everyone has a different outcome with surgery. So it would be very hard to say how you would do with surgery. Depression and chronic pain go hand in hand. What types of meds do the doctors have you on at the current time? I noticed you said you are on a fixed income but are having a problem taking time off work to go to rehab and physical therapy. For myself, since I was no longer to work or get out of bed there just wasn't much of a option as to wether I could go to physical therapy. I commend you on trying to raise your daughter by yourself. Did you ask the doctors by not having surgery what the long term consequences maybe? Is your pain prominent in your back or is traveling down your legs? What type of surgery are they recommending? Just keep in mind that surgeons can only do so much and the remainder is up to the patients. After surgery and some recovery there is lots of hard work to be done. For most including myself stretching is a daily part of life now post surgery.

    Anyway just wanted to come by and welcome you to spine-health. Looking forward to reading more of your post.
  • My opinion is some drs understand, some don't. Some listen, some don't. Some want to help, others may give up. Some are truly concerned for their patients, some have no clue what to do. If you're not satisfied with a dr, find another. I don't know what I'd do if my drs didn't listen about my pain,believe the pain I'm in or just didn't help at all.
    Thank you for your service. My dads a disabled vet also, and his disability had nothing to do with war... He was a radioman in the Navy and lost his hearing from that. But it doesn't make his job anyless than others. He still served his country and is proud to be a veteran! I'm proud of all who serve or served,you are all heroes to me!

  • Well sense I am a Vet and Am being treated at the VA Hospital. They have a jacked up system that only allows use to change a doctor every year... I don't see where are patient rights are in that.. But I have no power over that. My last doctor pressed me about surgery and made me feel very uncomfortable. My reasoning on not doing surgery is 1 No guarantee and Me being at my age and taking care of my daughter I just can't do it right now. Of course they choose not to accept that but I stand on my thoughts.

    I am not to clear on what surgery they are talking about. I was told about a sponge or a block of some sort being placed in there and yes It is L5/S1 bout for some reason S2 pops in my head.. Not sure if S2 has any relation to L5 but... My new doctor hmmmm I got a funny Aurora when I first meet her. She thinks Im just there for the narcotics.....Which I have to admit they help and I'm not the type to abuse them. I do have my daughter alot and she comes first and I am not going to dope myself up to where I can't pay attention to her you know.... And I very much am thankful for ur compliment!
  • I don't have family down here. There all up in Michigan. And Believe me I love to exercise. I have had been told by some doctors here when they did this needle test in mty back assuming for nerves that I have some of hte biggest back muscles in my lower back. I PT alot but have had to sloww down cause I don't have pain meds right now and I know I will suffer the next day if I choose to PT right now. As for the steroids shot I have been receiving them for over a year. But back in April I finally told the Anesthesia pain doctors that there just not working. I mean I did give it a try cause you can only get them every 3 months than I was given them every 2 months. I have a appt for a rehab Med provider and I know that I will be given a appt for Back rehab or some other type of rehab for my back.... But at this time I have to wait to get a notice for what the appts are for.. Prolly by next Wednesday I can find out.

    As for hte childcare I don't work and I don't have much money and I don't think it makes sense to have someone watch my child when I am not working. That is my time with her and doesnt make sense.. Thats my feeings
  • I was on loratab or Vicodin to me there both the same. But 7.5/500 120 a month which to me wasn't enough. At 4X a day wasn't enough.. And I was on Valiums 5 mg 2 a day I think.. and for some reason my last doctor had me believing they were for Spasms... But on the bottle they are for Anxiety..Maybe she saw the depression or stress in my eyes from the pain and my concerns on my daily activities. Of course I am aware of effects of these drugs as I will not get all loaded when I have my daughter..

    Now currently I am on Gabapthentin 300 mg 3 X a day for my Nerves assuming for the pinched nerve, which was diagnosed 2 weeks ago from a EGI test( I think That was what the test was) Also I am on Tizandine HCL 4mg 1 every 12 hrs for back spasms and this is my 4 day of taken these meds and I feel after a week than I can see if there working. The pain meds... Is funny because my PCP said she is not there to prescribe me narcotics..???????? I was thinkin in my head than wtf am I here for..??? But now I found out I have to take 3 urine test first until she will give me any.. Which is ok but I have been on Vicodin/Loratabs for over a year from this Va Hospital. Not sure why reading someones medical chart for there past is just a challenge for this doctor... you would think if I have been prescribe them just a month ago than I should now. But this is what us Vets have to deal with for our medical problems alot of circles and back bending with alot of suffering to satisfy these doctors. I guarantee I will be put back on me pain meds but 1st have to follow her stupid decision. Not sure what the difference of giving me now sense I am adapted to using them, than waiting a month or 2 for some weird reason for this doctor. Justsucks I have to deal with pain right now.
  • Like I stated to someone else that posted a reply here.The Va Hospital has this jacked up rule where we can't change a doctor until we have had our previous one for a year? Believe me I am just stoked on that. Wondering who is actually running this project you know... .We really dont have any patient rights you know. I mean any doctor here or out on the streets can look at my MRI's and see that yes this person has pain.. He dosen't have a lower disc!!! Makes sense to say that I will endure chronic pain because of my diagnosis's At times I almost loose it from these people but I know nothing will come out of it if I filp out ha! But I do let them know how jacked up they are!
  • I think it's jacked too, of all places to deal with crap, I think the VA needs to get with the program... You guys deserve better treatment and you'd thunk that the government would provide better treatment giving all you do or have done for this country. It makes no sense for our vets to be treated with less than the best!
  • no they carnt possibly understand how e feel because they carnt feel our pain and the effect it has on us .like you i only get an few hours sleep a night 3 max and i am in horrible pain too .so just keep pounding the pain killers down and try to get yourself in a comfy position ..i am sorry that my post is not very good but i am not very well myself and not firing on all cylinders! take care
  • There is a Patient Advocate listed on the web site for the New Orleans VA. I suggest contacting this individual and speaking to him about your concerns. That is what they are there for.

  • I can soooooo understand that.. .But for me I put myself in a lower categorized slot... Even though I never went overseas... I did support both wars. I mean me being a Veteran I would rather see the ones that have war injuries put on High Priority you know. But for me to see this and how I am being treated only makes me feel so bad for the ones that have lost limbs and really bleed for our country.. I still try to see why our system is broke. And I am vey blunt bout things when I go in there. But being in New Orleans we have a lack of doctors and ur Va system here is so scared to stand up to these doctors fearing they will run them off. I really think we need a new Director over here. The lady we have should be pushing to pass some type of bill or something tp attract new doctors our way.... Maybe she is I don't know and I sooo Hate when they use Katrina as crouch. Thats all they talk about Katrina this or Katrina that... Ive been here sense 2003 and Yeah it sucks but Lets look on the future and not dwell on the PAST!! Thanks for your thoughts means alot to know people still give recognition to those that put there lives on the line for our freedom.. Even if peoples values of the war are different.... Remember we just follow orders! GOD BLESS You!
  • Welcome to SH.
    Also thank you for your service to our country.
    Kudos to you for furthering your education. =D>
    BTW....your daughter is lovely and your love for her shines through. It's wonderful that you have each other.
    Some Doctors get it and some do not! Some get it in their heads that everyone they talk to is just after drugs. Well DUH!! When you are in pain a darned sugar pill is of no help now is it??
    You need help now!! Pain does not back off and wait until you can get help from some Doctor that wants you to jump through hoops first. Sheesh....
    Sorry to rant like this but I do get it and wish your Doctor did too.
    Best of luck to you.
    Patsy W
  • Lucky you!! When I change doctors here I have to start back at the btm of the ladder... I mena these new Tizandine pills for back spasms helped a lil cause they make you drowsy.. But there not efficient for my pain:( But maybe in a month after I pee enough for them they will give me some... I mean If there looking for people that use off the street drugs screening me once a week or a month isn't gonna catch me. I don't do those types of drugs I have way to much to loose. My daughter and my Pride.. But again I have to follow there rules and just have to bare with the pain in the meantime..
  • I could sooo take you in a day of life with me going to these people... I know them all on a first name bases.. It dosent help you when they don't know much about the system. I could list alot of things I have dealt with with the Advocate. I even contacted the Directors office and know just deal with the Customer Relations person. The last 3 months he has help me out somewhat I am very straight foward with him but theres only so much he can do because of the system.. But Thank you for that Even though I have already been down that road!
  • Thanks for your input! I'm just glad people can understand I'm not just there for the drug. I do have a reason and they have the proof. Its just a matter of how and what will fix the problems.. Yes I might not be able to be fixed but I can be given the care I need! Thanks Bunches!
  • Boy, do I ever feel for you guys down there. Our VA system is bad enough up here, but nothing compared to what you guys have to deal with!!! What would happen if you just went ahead and made an appointment with another doctor? I can't believe that they wouldn't allow for second opinions!! Can you contact your local political rep? (you'll have to excuse my ignorance of the American political system). Could they be of any help to get the ball rolling for you?
    As for surgery, yes, avoid it for as long as you can, but if you have to go, there are less invasive surgeries out there, that have quicker healing and recovery times than let's say an ACDF. Do your research, and be well informed, in case it does come to that point. I hope that your new doctor is more of a help for you, and finds something that works for you. Good luck!!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Hi, and welcome to SH. :)

    I have been very fortunate with my doctors understanding my neck pain. When I went to my family doc and said "I'm in trouble with my neck" he checked me and diagnosed me on the spot (cervical herniation) because he had exactly the same thing happen to him. Of course, it was confirmed by MRI. I ended up seeing a wonderful surgeon (neuro/ortho) who also had experienced a cervical herniation and understood how I felt. It helps tremendously to have your doctor know from experience what you're going through. I wish you had the same empathy from the doctors who are treating you. It sounds like they are recommending surgery because you really need it and I hope you feel you can trust their judgment in that regard even if you choose not to go with the surgery. What a wonderful thing that you're such a devoted father! Your daughter is beautiful. >:D< I hope you get the best help possible.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Your situation sounds similar to my work comp injury. They pick the docs, as the law allows them to. When i first went to therapy and was still working, had to use my vacation time and sick time, as the law says that is how it works. Then of course had to take drug test to get the meds. I would loose my job if I was using drugs company policy. So I really feel for your frustrations. Maybe you need to contact that advocates boss and everyone has a boss. Try to be as nice as possible, though. Not that I think your being mean by any means. Just seem to get more with honey than vinegar. Also as someone stated contact some of the elected officials. Google the names and you will get their direct email addresses. Are you currently working outside the home? You may have to use day care for your daughter while you get the therapy, but in the long run it may make you better and give you a higher quality of life with her. Good luck.
  • Well I so have to ask for that opinion from a "REGULAR". Ha! Yes I ment the " " anyways When I go in I'll have to see 1st than if I can't than I will bring it to my State Senate. But thanks for the advice on what could happen if I don't make this decision!
  • Thank you very much for the compliments!! Ummm I think just in this past day I wanted to find others like this site. And I never thought I was gonna run into people like all of you!! I just dont know what is gonna happen.. Like how much time I am gonna need to recover.. Sense I don't have anyone around and My Ex is with her b/f... I mena we have a good relationship and were being sooo mature about our Sep. for a daughter. But I can't bare loosing that time not with my daughter... or even if I have her I can't do anything for her.... I think about this everyday and I just need to get into the fourms with you people and ask questions you know. Eventually I might run into someone that has been where I am today and can explain what he/she has done.. Until than I am gonna be active on learning bout this stuff!
  • No offense intended, but how exactly did you get injured?
    BrokeJoke said:

    If the military broke me they should fix me. Bottom Line!
    You indicate in your posts that you have DDD (Degenerative Disc Disease) at L5/S1. Did you injure yourself while in the military or is this something that you are genetically pre-disposed to have. It really doesn't matter with the VA, because as a veteran you are entitled to benefits. I know all about the VA, went that route for a problem about 30 years ago, would never do that again.

    Just so you know, not everyone with DDD is symptomatic. What are your current symptoms? Where does it hurt? When do you feel pain? For this site to provide appropriate help, you need to throw us bone.

  • Well I don't work and I am trying to get a job.. But ME I don't like to lie.. When I go into Job interviews. I have to tell them about me not able to pick up certain weight and stuff. I mean I workout alot... I prolly have bout 3% body fat.. I don't want to lie to a company or mislead them by sayin "Oh I can do this job" and not tell them down the line I am gonna need time to goto therapy. After the Military I take alot of pride in myself and what I can do. I know thats off the subject... And I have asked if I can bring my daughter to therapy, which I know that request is gonna get shot down.. But until they say know I have lil hope!! I do appreciate your input though!
  • No I don't have DDD. As far as I know My last disc is gone..L5/S1 Prolly from wear and tear not sure. Ummm I was a Aviation Ordancemen. I delat with Bomb Racks, Missile & Rocket Launchers. In the time of war we Humped( Pushed Out alot of gear). We were at times short handed and sometimes was just one of us dealing with these equipment. I have alot of recognition and a cpl awards ( Which If you knew about AO's They don't get recognized very easily ) I also blew my muscle out of my leg and have had surgery twice and that wasn't fixed either!

    I have unbareable pain in my lower back more to the left side. sometimes have pain down my left leg... The pain in deep in my back like bones rubbing together. The pain is all the time but like right now from siting in a chair for bout 3 hrs it hurts bad.. I can feel some pain in my foot like a striking pain down my leg to my foot. I also get this same pain while driving my car no more than 5 minutes. And Also whne I have my daughter in my arms walking through a store. Shes only 7 months old and weighs only 23 pounds soo..
  • that you are having to deal with the VA on your injury. I am from a large military town and have heard tons of horror stories about the VA and Navy Hospital. I do applaud you for standing up and being a responsible father to your daughter. So many fathers just choose to walk away. I have a 29 year old son that is also a single father. His health is good and being a single parent is very tough for him so I can really imagine what you deal with. You reallu have found a great community for understanding and support. I hope that you are somehow able to get quality care and some relief soon. Please keep us posted.
  • Excellent post Michael. Sorry you were so tired that you had to quit before you were really ready to.

    JJ Grey,

    Don't believe every "horror story" you hear. Navy Medicine is some of the most outstanding and cutting edge out there.


    What did you get med-boarded for and what were the final concessions?

  • Self-advocacy and knowledge of the system are the most effective ways for veterans to receive the care they deserve through the VA. The adages "knowledge is power" and "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" certainly apply in this situation as well as for all of us who need answers to medical care issues.

  • You are kinda funny.. I also have to say, Thank You so much for your Service to our Country. It is very much appreciated by me and my family!
    You are in a bummer deal it sounds like. I think there are many on this board that are kinda in that boat. Interestingly enough, I know a few vets around here (Utah), I now the one fellow has a prescription for 180 lortab 10/500 per month. That is a lot. That is what I would like to feel better quite frankly. He goes to the VA once a year for a checkup he said, then they send him his prescriptions. It's too bad you can't find a different doctor that really understands how this kind of horrendous pain affects people. I read an article the other day, I'll post the link. I need to send this too my boss.
    It really says a lot. Print it off and take it to your doctor. I am very fortunate, the lortab do not affect me other than relieving the nerve pain. I so enjoy when it goes away a while after I take my medication, then I can do whatever I want and just live EDITED life! For about 4 hours or so, till it wears off, then it is miserable again for a couple hours till I can take the next dose. It is a vicious thing to deal with. I am going to talk to my doc this week when I see her too. I guess if she won't up me to 6 a day, I'm gonna have to concede to her wishes and try the morphine extended release. Like you tho, I do NOT want to feel goofy, I just want to be me and feel like me.
    I would be careful of surgery, although it sounds like your doc hasn't given you any clear discussion of what he plans. It does sound a bit scary. I don't know, I had the fusion surgery, and it was great for a while, but now I have so much arthritis pushing on nerves all the time. It's awful. Back surgery is always a risk, not to be taken lightly. "IF" you are gonna be on as many meds after surgery as you were before - what's the point. I asked my surgeon that a couple years after the surgery and reminded him he had told me, oh if you want to ride that horse again and do this and that - this IS the surgery for you! What a EDITED. When I saw him a couple years later about that, he said, well.... Guess your gonna have to BUCK UP. I told him to go EDITED himself.. Good luck to you and do be careful of what you get yourself into!

    EDITED for inappropriate language by Authority Member haglandc
  • First, I would like to thank you for your service to our country. My husband is a veteran and we both have great respect for those who serve. Your daughter is absolutely precious...she is so lucky to have a father who loves and cares for her. I'm so sorry you're going through so much pain and aggravation over trying to get proper medical care. Hang in there...there is so much support on this site. There are a lot of good people who really care.

    Lynn, from Florida
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